Saturday, December 19, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Campaign Update 12

Jeb Bush’s debate performance in Las Vegas was quite
significantly improved over his earlier appearances, and
this has many, especially his supporters, wondering whether
he can turn his campaign around in time for the caucuses
and primaries early next year. Some observers, especially
those who do not favor his candidacy, are suggesting it is
too late, but considering the hefty campaign funds he has
raised, his organization already active in many states, and
his name recognition, it might be just a bit too soon to write
him off. He shares some of his base with supporters of
Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, both of whom are
currently getting stronger. This makes his comeback more

When Vice President Joe Biden declined to run for president
in 2016, the national punditry declared the race for next
year’s Democratic nomination over, saying that Hillary
Clinton had the nomination locked up. At that point, Mrs.
had only two opponents, and it was decided by the punditry
that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders could not win (even
though he then led, and still does lead, Mrs. Clinton in New
Hampshire). If the national and state polls are to be believed,
the former secretary of state has a large lead in most areas,
although her overall numbers are remarkably weak when
compared with most other nomination frontrunners in modern
times. Controversy continues to dog Mrs. Clinton who has
high negatives, and so far seems not to have inspired much
enthusiasm in her party’s grass roots, other than with older
liberal women. On paper, conventional wisdom seems to be
correct. Although Mr. Sanders continues to run well in the
party's left base, and is expected to win New Hampshire , there
is no evidence yet that he can win anywhere else. Former
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has been ignored by the
party's grass roots throughout the campaign so far. Mrs. Clinton
leads by a big margin in Iowa, although she is barely above
50% in most polls in this caucus state where only a small
percentage of eligible voters take part in the caucus. Only a
last-minute surge by Mr. Sanders or Mr. O'Malley, or more
political problems for Mrs. Clinton, would seem able to change
the outcome in this race, but this seems to be a year when
surprises can happen.

With Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of his earlier pledge not
to run as a third-party candidate in 2016, it would appear that
2015 will be a two-person contest in November. Only former
Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has even hinted they
would consider running as an independent next year, but so far
this seems unlikely.


At the Republican national convention next year, the presidential
nomination will be made by 560 at-large delegates and 1305
delegates chosen by GOP voters in state primaries and caucuses.
While most attention now is on the early four states plus the 11
states of Super Tuesday, it is very important not to forget the
majority of states which choose their delegates mostly on a
winner-take-all basis after March 1. In particular, I call attention
to Michigan (42 delegates) on March 8; Illinois (54 delegates) and
Ohio (48 delegates) on March 15; New York (81) delegates on
April 19; Pennsylvania (54 delegates) on April 26; and California
(159 delegates) and New Jersey (36 delegates) on June 7. These
states alone, plus other northeastern and far west states, supply
more than one-third of the total elected and at-large delegates. In
recent cycles, the nomination tended to be clinched in the early
primaries, and the later primaries were anti-climactic. It would
appear, however, that in 2016 this might not be the case. Many
of the original 18 major candidates will likely be withdrawn by
March 1, but Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush,
Donald Trump, and possibly John Kasich and one or more
other candidates could still be competing after Super Tuesday,
each with a number of delegates. Most of the more conservative
southern primaries will have taken place by then, and more
moderate conservative primaries in the far west and the
northeast will be ahead. Ted Cruz might then do well in
midwestern primaries and caucuses, and Chris Christie
might do well in far western and northeastern primaries. Jeb
Bush and John Kasich also could do well in the later events.
As in the Democratic nomination contest of 2008, the 2016 race
might be decided at the very end of the voting, and even result
in a very rare contested convention. Unless, one candidate wins
very decisively in the traditional First Four and Super Tuesday
elections, a quite non-traditional, protracted contest could well
happen in April, May and early June. Just do the math.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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